Global Review – 23rd August

Gas price closes at record €276.7

Ttf futures, benchmarks of the price of methane in Europe, ended trading in Amsterdam with a jump of 13.17% to €276.75 – a new record which reflects Gazprom’s decision to close the Nord Stream gas pipeline for three days. During the session, futures reached a maximum of €295 (+ 20.6%). Paying the highest price due to Germany’s strong exposure to Russian gas imports is the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, whose Dax index lost 2.32% to 13,230 points. In Paris the Cac 40 lost 1.8% to 6,378 points while in London the Ftse 100 managed to contain the falls to 0.22%, to 7,533 points. “We have a very critical winter ahead of us,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told public TV Zdf. The minister also spoke of the new aid coming for the Germans, saying that it was important to maintain the “democratic consensus” and a “basic balance” and, therefore, “those who earn less must be supported more than those who earn more”.

Germany, Canada hold energy supply talks

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his deputy, Robert Habeck, kicked off a three-day trip to Canada on Monday, seeking to arrange short-term gas-based energy solutions and to explore longer-term, cleaner options, such as green hydrogen. In a joint media conference in Montreal, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed Scholz as an “extremely important progressive voice” and expressed optimism about mutually-beneficial business investments and cooperation, defending Ukraine from Russian aggression. Trudeau promoted his plans to make Canada a “net-zero” economy in terms of carbon emissions, as well as a major “global energy supplier”. The focus of the negotiations with Germany will lie on the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and green hydrogen amid Berlin’s attempt to lessen its dependence on Russia as a supplier of gas. Later today, Scholz and his deputy will travel to Newfoundland to highlight the development of hydrogen technologies and hydrogen supply chains in the remote town of Stephenville. They are expected to sign an agreement on green hydrogen during the visit. Alongside their staff, security personnel and journalists, 13 managers including the CEOs of Volkswagen, Bayer, Siemens Energy and Uniper accompany the two top-tier politicians.

Trump sues justice department

Former US President Donald Trump has asked a judge to freeze a justice department investigation of files seized from his home in an FBI search. In a lawsuit, his legal team asked that an independent lawyer be appointed to oversee documents that agents removed from Mar-a-Lago in Florida this month. Eleven sets of classified files were taken from Mr Trump’s estate on August 8, according to the FBI. Trump is being investigated for potentially mishandling documents. On Monday, his lawyers asked that a “neutral” third-party attorney – known as a ‘special master’ – be appointed to determine whether the seized files are covered by executive privilege, which allows presidents to keep certain communications under wraps. The Department of Justice said in a brief statement that prosecutors were aware of Trump’s lawsuit, and would respond in court. The 27-page legal action was filed in West Palm Beach, Florida. It says: “President Donald J Trump is the clear frontrunner in the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary and in the 2024 General Election, should he decide to run.”

Estonia: no request for extradition from Russia

Estonia has not received any official extradition request from the Russian authorities for Natalia Vovk, the woman whom the Russian services (FSB) accuse of being the murderer of Darya Dugina. “We have not received any official information or requests from the Russian authorities on this matter,” said Urmas Reinsalu, the Estonian foreign minister, in a note to a request from the Russian authorities.

Kiev bans Independence Day festivities

Kiev has banned public celebrations this week commemorating independence from Soviet rule, citing a heightened threat of Russian attack in a war the UN said Monday has killed nearly 5,600 civilians, including many children. Near frontlines in the south of the country, Ukraine said Russia fired rockets into several towns north and west of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, captured by Russian forces shortly after they invaded Ukraine in February. Artillery and rocket fire near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor complex, on the south bank of the Dnipro River, has led to calls for the area to be demilitarised. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has warned Moscow could try “something particularly ugly” in the run-up to tomorrow’s 31st independence anniversary, which also marks six months since Russia invaded. Kiev authorities have banned public events related to the anniversary from Monday until Thursday due to the possibility of renewed rocket attacks. Other jurisdictions also restricted public gatherings.

Meloni criticised for posting video of woman’s rape

Italian far-right politician Giorgia Meloni has hit back after she was criticised for posting a video of a woman being raped on Twitter. Meloni was accused of “indecent” and “vulgar” election campaigning by rival politicians after sharing the controversial footage. The blurred video shows shows a Ukrainian woman being assaulted and raped in the middle of the street in Piacenza by “an asylum seeker”, Meloni said. It was filmed by an onlooker, and the cries of the woman can be heard. The leader of the far-right Fratelli d’Italia party has pledged to “restore security” in the country if she wins the upcoming election on September 25.

Argentina prosecutor seeks 12-year jail term for Fernandez

A federal prosecutor in Argentina called on Monday for a 12-year prison sentence for Cristina Fernandez, the country’s former president and current vice president. She has been on trial since 2019 for allegedly defrauding the state and involvement in a scheme to divert public funds during her two terms as president between 2007 and 2015. As head of the senate, Fernandez cannot be detained, but in closing arguments, Prosecutor Diego Luciani said she should be sent to jail. He also wants her barred from ever holding public office again. Fernandez had previously denied any wrongdoing and claimed the charges are politically motivated.

Nigerian gunmen kidnap Catholic nuns

Gunmen abducted four Catholic nuns in Nigeria’s southeastern state of Imo, police said on Monday. The kidnapping is the latest violent incident in the oil-producing region, where separatist tensions are on the rise. Although kidnappings by criminal gangs have become common in Africa’s most-populous country, members of Christian churches have increasingly been targeted in recent weeks. The four nuns were taken from a vehicle while travelling to Mass, police told reporters, a further sign that highways in remote parts of Nigeria have become increasingly unsafe. Police said no group had claimed responsibility for the abduction nor made a ransom demand. Most hostages are released after payment, but some have been killed.

Ten Hag hails Man Utd’s change of attitude in Liverpool win

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said a change in attitude and spirit from his players was the reason behind a 2-1 win over Liverpool on Monday to lift the gloom around Old Trafford. The Dutch coach became the first United manager to lose his opening two games in charge for more than a century as defeats to Brighton and Brentford left the Red Devils bottom of the Premier League for the first time in 30 years. On a big night for Ten Hag, his decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo and club captain Harry Maguire paid dividends as United’s high tempo blitzed Liverpool for the opening 30 minutes. Jadon Sancho gave the home side a deserved half-time lead before Marcus Rashford’s first goal since January put United 2-0 up. Mohamed Salah pulled a goal back for Liverpool 10 minutes from time, but Jurgen Klopp’s men have now failed to win any of their first three league games of the season to fall seven points behind leaders Arsenal. 

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